“We need a pastor who wakes up in the morning thinking about advancing the mission of this church.”
– Chair of a pastor search team
“Were not our hearts burning within us?”
– Emmaus Road disciples after a brush with Jesus

“Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord…”
– Apostle Paul, encouraging Colossian Christians to focus their passion

Most of us want to live passionately, serving with spiritual vigor and enthusiasm, making a difference for Christ.

But how does pastoral passion happen? Can we “work it up” or is it simply a gift from God? Good questions, but largely unanswerable.

What we can describe is the soil from which pastoral passion grows. Just as prepared soil, with the right mix of nutrients and conditions, produces healthy crops, so a certain soil mix makes pastoral passion more likely to grow.

Strong connection to the passionate Christ. Need we mention this one? Yes. We, as ministers, can become so immersed in the day-to-day running of a church that we forget why we do what we do.

Passionate pastors are captivated by Christ. They not only admire and respect the ministry of Jesus, they want to reflect the Spirit of Christ.

They are committed to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, even above financial security, prominence in a community, and respect and admiration from a congregation.

If this ingredient is not in the soil from which one grows, the plant will be a wispy, frail miniature of what it could be. The passionate Christ is our model and inspiration.

Need-based challenge.

“Just imagine if there was a healthy church in this community. Through its ministry, people would come to know Christ, the quality of life for the residents would rise, isolation would decrease, and individual lives would change.”

A new church developer described his motivation for starting the now thriving church with the above statement about the perceived need.

Whatever one’s calling, discerning it often starts with noticing the need. This is followed by the awareness that someone should do something about this need.

Then the passionate pastor realizes “the someone” to address the need may be her.

And finally, the need seizes the pastor, firing the imagination with possibilities for redemptive activity. The fire in the belly is lit.

Synchronicity with your life trajectory.

How many needs are there in your community, much less in the wider world?

We see needs every day that someone should address. Yet, only a few needs in our lifetimes connect with our life trajectory in such a way that we are captured by them.

These needs turn into challenges we can’t ignore. We know deep in our souls this ministry is ours to do, our cause or mission to pursue.

Why do some needs become challenges that turn into callings? They are probably consistent with your life trajectory. You can look back and see how you were prepared (uniquely so) for meeting this challenge.

Calls on your greatest gift mix.

This is why ministers need sufficient self-awareness. Most clergy have multiple gifts and assets in their toolboxes, equipping them to serve in many ways in God’s vineyard.

But which gifts are your finest to lay before your Lord? Passionate pastors discover a ministry context that needs their unique gift mix in order to advance the mission.

When serving from one’s greatest gift mix, energy flows. This pastor is “in the zone.”

Marked by joy.

Many days for the passionate pastor are infused with joy. This pastor finds moments of bliss wherein she thinks, “I didn’t expect it to be this good.”

Rather than pat herself on the back, she raises her eyes and breathes a prayer of gratitude to God.

In these moments and on those days, she’s amazed that a church would pay her to do this.

The personal satisfaction she finds in passionate ministry seems payment enough (not suggesting a loss of paycheck here).

This is the awareness that one rather be right here, right now, with these people, doing this ministry than anywhere else in the world.

She knows that if life ended now, and she looked back on this, she would say, “That was a life well lived.”

Fire in the belly. Passionate pastoral ministry. May we cultivate the soil of our lives so that passionate pastoral ministry can grow, thrive and flourish.

Mark Tidsworth is president of Pinnacle Leadership Associates.

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